Blood Cancers (Leukemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma)
Most types of blood cancer start in your bone marrow, the spongy material inside your bones that produces stem cells. Stem cells develop into three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. If your body starts producing abnormal, it interrupts normal function of your blood and can lead to cancer.
Blood cancer is also called hematologic cancer. There are several types of blood cancer, including:
- Leukemia: This blood cancer results from abnormal white blood cells and is found in blood and bone marrow. There are several types of leukemia. Some are more common in children.
- Lymphoma: This blood cancer affects the lymphatic system, which produces immune cells (lymphocytes). It develops when abnormal lymphocytes collect in your lymph nodes. There are two types of lymphoma — Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They each affect different types of lymphocytes.
- Multiple myeloma: This condition develops in the plasma cells. These white blood cells produce antibodies that fight infection.
Blood cancers affect both children and adults. Early detection of these cancers is often difficult. But the doctors at The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center at Englewood Health are experts at precisely diagnosing and effectively treating all types of blood cancer.
Why Choose Englewood Health for Blood Cancer Care?
Englewood Health is home to highly trained blood cancer experts. You’ll receive world-class care you might only expect from a major medical center.
At Englewood Health, you benefit from:
- Expertise: Your care team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained doctors with years of advanced training in blood cancer diagnosis and treatment.
- Collaborative care: Our physicians take a team approach to your care. They meet regularly to share information about your diagnosis and treatment options. Together, they develop the most effective treatment plan.
- Strategic partnership: We partner with other healthcare organizations, and if you need a specialized treatment, we can seamlessly connect you with the appropriate care.
- Advanced diagnosis and treatment: We use precise imaging technologies to diagnose blood cancers. We also use innovative molecular DNA analysis to create precision medicine treatments unique to you.
- 24/7 patient support: Our patient navigators help you coordinate care and communicate with your care team. Our nurse practitioners are available around the clock, if you have questions or concerns.
Blood Cancer Risk Factors
A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of developing a condition. Many people who get blood cancer have no risk factors. On the other hand, having risk factors doesn’t mean you will get the disease.
Different types of blood cancers have different risk factors, but there are some things that increase your overall risk, including:
- Having previously gone through chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer
- Exposure to certain industrial chemicals, such as the solvent, benzene
- Family history of blood cancer
Blood Cancer Symptoms
While each type of blood cancer has different symptoms, there are some they have in common, including:
- Chills and fever
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Weakness and fatigue
In addition to the common symptoms, the main symptom of:
- Leukemia is anemia (low iron in the blood)
- Lymphoma is swollen lymph nodes
- Myeloma is bone pain (especially in the back or ribs)
Screening for Blood Cancer
At Englewood Health, we don’t recommend routine screening for blood cancer unless you have significant risk factors. However, routine blood tests may alert your doctor to changes in your blood cells. If that’s the case, your doctor will recommend more thorough testing.
Blood Cancer Diagnosis
The experts at Englewood Health use the most advanced techniques to accurately diagnose all types of blood cancers. If you have symptoms that suggest blood cancer, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:
- Blood tests: Your doctor will order a series of blood tests as the first step toward detecting blood cancer. These tests may include a complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry and blood smear. The results help identify abnormalities in your blood that may signal leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma.
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: Most blood cancers begin in your bone marrow. During this test, the doctor extracts a small amount of bone marrow from your hip bone. Our experts analyze the marrow under a microscope to look for any abnormal cells.
- Imaging tests: We use the most advanced imaging technology — including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scans and computed tomography (CT) scans. These noninvasive tests help us detect signs of blood cancer, such as tumors, abnormal lymph nodes, or early bone changes.
- Lymph node biopsy: If you have enlarged lymph nodes, your doctor may use this test to confirm a lymphoma diagnosis. Your doctor surgically removes a small amount of tissue from your lymph node. A pathologist then examines it to see if it contains cancerous cells.
- Lumbar puncture: This test is also called a spinal tap. Your doctor uses a long needle to remove some of the spinal fluid and check it for blood cancer cells.
Molecular DNA Analysis
The blood cancer specialists at Englewood Health offer cutting-edge molecular profiling of cancer cells. These advanced tests provide insights that help us personalize treatments and target them to the unique DNA of the cancer cells.
We send a sample of your bone marrow, blood, or lymph node to our laboratory for a detailed analysis. This helps us understand the biology of the cancer, such as how it grows and mutates. It also reveals how it might respond to specific treatments.
We use this information to create precision medicine treatments specifically designed for you.
At Englewood Health, we provide our patients with the most advanced blood cancer treatments. Our experts use many of the same leading-edge therapies you would expect to find at major medical centers.
Your Blood Cancer Treatment Team
There are many different types of blood cancer, each requiring specialized care. At Englewood Health, you’ll work with a team of specialists from a variety of disciplines. Your care team meets regularly to discuss your treatment and determine the most effective, personalized approach.
All of your doctors practice in one convenient location to make it easy for you to access them in a single visit. Your care team may include:
- Hematologists, who specialize in diseases affecting the blood
- Hematologic oncologists, who specialize in diagnosing and treating blood cancers
- Medical oncologists, who manage blood cancers using drug therapies
- Radiation oncologists, who plan and perform radiation therapy
We offer several effective, nonsurgical therapies for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma treatment. If you need chemotherapy or precision medicine delivered intravenously (through a needle inserted in a vein), you’ll receive treatment at our state-of-the-art Infusion Center. This facility includes 24 private rooms and is staffed by specialized oncology-certified nurses.
Your treatment plan may include one or more therapies, including:
- Chemotherapy: Doctors deliver anti-cancer drugs into your bloodstream to attack and destroy blood cancer cells.
- Radiation: This treatment, also called radiotherapy, is usually used in combination with drug therapy for treating blood cancer. A radiation oncologist delivers targeted high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiotherapy can also help relieve pain related to blood cancer. If you need a bone marrow transplant, you may have full body radiation to prepare for the procedure.
- Precision medicine: If your doctor thinks you’re a candidate for precision medicine, we will do a molecular DNA analysis of your cancer cells. We use this information about the biology and behavior of your cancer cells to pinpoint a personalized drug treatment. These regimens precisely target and kill cancer cells — often with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
- Clinical trials: Blood cancer experts at Englewood Health participate in many of the same national trials available at major cancer centers.